Dawes Frontman Taylor Goldsmith on Shedding “Indie Folk” Label

Taylor Goldsmith (far left) peels back the curtain on Dawes’ creative process.
Taylor Goldsmith (far left) peels back the curtain on Dawes’ creative process. courtesy the artist
Dawes will play Bomb Factory on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Artists constantly strive to reinvent themselves. For musicians this creative urge can be problematic, since it's often at odds with the desires of the critics and fans. Taylor Goldsmith, frontman and songwriter of popular indie band Dawes, says the longer they stay together the more difficult it becomes to make these interests meet.

“We’ve always tried to inspire ourselves, so to speak. In the beginning, that could mean just hearing your own songs played back to you for the very first time,” he says. “As time goes on, though ... you want to embellish that vocabulary. When we record a song, like ‘Bedside Manner,’ it’s important that the next time I write a somber, mid-tempo song that we don’t treat it the same way.”

Dawes’ music has long been categorized as “indie folk,” and Dawes is out to prove the label’s inaccuracy with their latest effort, We’re All Gonna Die, for which they’ve ditched the folk roots in favor of a more ethereal, experimental sound. While their new music may seem like a wild departure to some, Goldsmith doesn’t see it that way. “It’s a continuation of what we’ve always done,” he says.

Goldsmith comes up with the initial idea for Dawes’ songs, but input from his bandmates shapes the ultimate direction. “I write these songs and I like the idea of letting the band interpret it as they will,” he says. “This band is like any band; it’s not just me. This isn’t just a way for me to play my songs. There are four distinct artistic voices, and they deserve to be expressed.”

His main goal with Dawes is that they will make something that sounds new. “When we were putting together ‘One Of Us,’ we were just following our impulses and what felt good. Playing it back, we were all just like ‘Wow, I don’t really know what this is.’ We let our responses to the music dictate the direction we took it in. If something excites us, and it feels good, then let’s recognize the value in that.”

On their latest album, Dawes also had a goal to build a more clear relationship between the lyrics and the composition of the music than they had in the past. “When you’re singing words like ‘we’re all gonna die’ while synths are cascading around it, it sounds a little absurd. We thought that if we can bring this beautiful track, with these lyrics, then perhaps that juxtaposition will affect the impression left on the listener.”

See Dawes at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St. Tickets are $25 at
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Taylor Frantum is a music journalist based out of Dallas/Denton,Texas. He has written for various online and print publications, including the Dallas Observer, the Dentonite, ThisNewBand and Monkeys Fighting Robots. He thinks Celebration Rock is one of the greatest albums of the last 20 years, and is more than happy to trade playlists with you, unless you have Tidal.